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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 78487 Find in a Library
Title: Access to the Courts (From Prisoner's Rights Sourcebook, P 69-87, 1980, Ira P Robbins, ed. - See NCJ-78483)
Corporate Author: University of Kansas Law Review
United States of America
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 19
Sponsoring Agency: Clark Boardman Company, Ltd
New York, NY 10014
University of Kansas Law Review
Lawrence, KS 66045
Sale Source: Clark Boardman Company, Ltd
435 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014
United States of America
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This chapter from a sourcebook on prisoners' rights examines the nature and legal foundation of the right of access to the courts endorsed by the Supreme Court in the case of Bounds v. Smith (1977).
Abstract: In Bounds v. Smith, the court held that the constitutional right of access to the courts requires that States aid inmates in filing meaningful legal papers by providing access to adequate law libraries or assistance from persons with legal training. The Bounds case consolidated three actions brought by prison inmates claiming that they were denied access to the courts in violation of the 14th amendment by the State's failure to provide legal research facilities and assistance in preparation of legal actions. The case also affirmed Younger v. Gilmore (1971), in which the Court held that a California prison regulation excluding State and Federal codes from the prison library was unconstitutional. Dissenting opinions in Bounds charged the majority with a failure to specify the source of the right of access to the courts. The majority opinion does not tie the right of access to any specific constitutional provision. Instead, the majority relies on numerous cases which involve the suspension clause, the equal protection clause, and the due process clause. Questions raised by the dissenters point out the lack of careful delineation of precedent and that the constitutional locus of the right of access to the courts is not clearly defined. Although the full implications of Bounds are not foreseeable, it is clear that the right of prisoner access to legal information in preparing legal papers now stands on firmer ground. The chapter includes 107 reference notes.
Index Term(s): Access to legal information; Inmate lawsuits; Jailhouse lawyers; Judicial decisions; Legal research; Libraries; Prisoner's rights; Right to counsel; US Supreme Court
Note: Reprinted from Kansas Law Review, V 26, N 636 (1978).
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